It took me a while to figure out that my happiness and longevity was never going to happen if I continued to take myself as seriously as I used to. Learning to lighten up has not only made me a more tolerable person to be around, but it’s also made me a lot happier. Here’s why.
I’ve learned that balance is power.
Realizing that I’m allowed to have a little bit of fun and that I don’t have to be this super serious girl all the time has been critical for me. At the core of it, balance is power. It makes you dynamic. Before I came to this realization, I meant business in every part of my life, all the time. Now, I leave people wondering how I’m able to steer a serious professional life and maintain an active social and personal life. It’s about prioritizing things in spurts. Not everything needs the same constant attention all of the time. In fact, that’s the easiest way to burn out in my opinion. The best way to avoid a burnout? Find balance!
No one likes a know-it-all.
I used to feel like I needed to prove myself to everyone from my boss to the cashier at the grocery store. I was constantly “on” and my desire to be taken seriously manifested in some nasty habits, like always having to be right. I’d cut people off mid-sentence when something didn’t make sense, I’d ask for way too much clarification on everything, and I was taking things out of context and way too far in an attempt to seem much more serious and wise. It was exhausting and off-putting to people around me. Learning to shut my mouth and suppress my desire to “correct” or “investigate” people has admittedly been a challenge but really important for my growth as a woman.
I wasn’t approachable.
Because of my know-it-all habit, I was totally unapproachable. Some people called me intimidating and from that point of view, I can kind of see why. Since learning to take a deep, deep breath and chill the actual F out, I think I’ve become a much more enjoyable person to be around.
Women are too hard on ourselves.
Our society makes it difficult for women to be ourselves. Period. As a professional in a corporate setting with few women around, I’ve always felt the need to overcompensate for being a woman even when I wasn’t doing it explicitly. Sad, I know, but I think that’s a reality a lot of women face these days. As a result of feeling like I need to overdo it, I was also taking myself too seriously and forgetting that I can make mistakes too.
It’s impossible to be in control all of the time.
I’m a control freak and if you’re like me, your need for control permeates just about every area of your life. I’m better at being less of one, although it’s still challenging for me. Whenever I slip into that space, I try to remind myself that it’s impossible to be in control all of the time. Because it is. Life happens sometimes and there isn’t much that you can do except to react to it.
I’ve had to learn that my actions speak more volumes than words.
I’ve come to believe that what one does and demonstrates is much most valuable than what she says. I’ve noticed that I’m taken seriously when I take action and I deliver something valuable whether in my professional or personal life, not necessarily when I open my mouth to say anything. Now, I chill out and I make sure that my actions do the talking most of the time.
Legitimacy is earned, not given.
Legitimacy forms over time, not in an instant. My fear of being illegitimate used to motivate me, but these days I just remind myself that you build legitimacy through time and actions and that I can have fun and let my hair down along the way.
Rarely is something as serious or as a big deal as it seems.
Lightening up has done wonders for my outlook on life. You ever worry so much about something and come to find out later that it’s completely and totally fine? That either no one saw the problem that you saw, no one was worried about what you were worried about, or whatever was stressing you out was minutia compared to the rest of it? That’s because having perspective is key. Learning that has been crucial for me.
Being perfect isn’t relatable because no one is.
I mentioned that I wasn’t incredibly approachable. Well, I also wasn’t that relatable either. I used to myself seriously because I was afraid to make mistakes, and I was afraid to look anything but perfect to the people in my life. But, what I’ve found, is that perfection and flaws show that I’m human. My flaws inform my character and my personality. Now that I accept that, I’m a much happier person because I don’t have to try so hard.
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